The story of what happened at Parihaka on Nov 5th 1881 is hard to digest. The barbarous invading army under orders and the heinous acts that they perpetuated against ‘peaceful’ resistance are almost unbelievable. This was to end the Maori wars, a defining moment in the history of Aotearoa. From the first moment I heard about Parihaka I knew I wanted to compose a piece of music in response. This ten minute work for orchestra describes the events of that day in 1881, with the dominant bass drum that the villagers heard approaching. This was a clash of cultures. But I also questioned the type of men who would do such a thing. They were sailors who spent a long time on ship. So the discovery of a sea-shanty named ‘Roll the Chariot’ fitted them well. The shanty itself is thought to be developed from a negro-spiritual sung during repetitive arduous work. It may even have Scottish roots, with it’s ‘Scotch-snatch’. Either way this uplifting song counterbalances the simplistic ‘tribal’ percussion and bleakness of the time. The trumpet theme at the beginning of the work and at the end, now with mute, offers the ‘unanswered question’ reminiscent of Charles Ives’ famous work. I am very proud of Parihaka.